Second Corinthians

Commentary on the Book of Ephesians

By: Tom Lowe                                         Date: 12/20/17

 

Lesson 24: Wives and Husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33)

 

Ephesians 5:22-33 (KJV)

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

 


Background

Marriage is regarded as the perfect union of body, mind and spirit between a man and a woman.  But things were very different when Paul wrote.  In this passage Paul is unfolding a blueprint for Christian marriage which shone with a radiant purity in an immoral world.

 

Let us look briefly at the situation against which Paul wrote this passage.

 

The Jews had a low view of women.  In his morning prayer there was a sentence in which a Jewish man gave thanks that God had not made him “a Gentile, a slave or a woman.” In Jewish law a woman was not a person, but a thing.  She had no legal rights whatsoever; she was absolutely her husband’s possession to do with as he wishes.

 

In theory the Jew had the highest ideal of marriage.  The Rabbis had their sayings.  “Every Jew must surrender his life rather than commit idolatry, murder or adultery.” “The very altar sheds tears when a man divorces the wife of his youth.” But the fact was that by Paul’s day, divorce had become tragically easy.

 

The law pertaining to divorce is summarized in Deuteronomy 24:1.  “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” Obviously everything turns on the interpretation of some uncleanness.  The stricter Rabbis, headed by the famous Shammai, held that the phrase meant adultery and adultery alone, and declared that even if a wife was as mischievous as Jezebel a husband could not divorced her except for adultery.  The more liberal Rabbis, headed by the equally famous Hillel, interpreted the phrase in the widest possible way.  They said that it meant that a man could divorce his wife if she spoiled his dinner by putting too much salt in his food, if she walked in public with her head uncovered, if she talked with men in the streets, if she spoke disrespectfully of her husband’s parents within the bounds of her husband’s hearing, if she was an impertinent woman, if she was troublesome or quarrelsome.  A certain rabbi Akiba interpreted the phrase that she find no favour in his eyes, to mean that a husband might divorce his wife if he found a woman whom he considered more attractive.  It is easy to see which school of thought would predominate.

 

Two factors in Jewish law made the matter worse.  First, the wife had no rights of divorce at all, unless her husband became a leper or an apostate or engaged in a disgusting trade.  Broadly speaking, a husband under Jewish law could divorce his wife for any reason; a wife could not divorce her husband for any reason at all.  Second, the process of divorce was awfully easy.  The Mosaic Law said that a man who wished a divorce had to hand his wife a bill of divorcement which said, “Let this be from me thy writ of divorce and letter of dismissal and deed of liberation, that thou mayest marry whatsoever a man thou wilt.” All a man had to do was to hand that bill of divorcement, correctly written out by a Rabbi to his wife in the presence of two witnesses and the divorce was complete.  The only other condition was that the woman’s dowry must be returned.

 

At the time of Christ’s coming the marriage bond was in peril even among the Jews, so much so that the very institution of marriage was threatened since Jewish girls were refusing to marry because their position as wife was so uncertain.

 

It was against this background that Paul writes.  When he wrote this lovely passage he was not stating the view that every man held.  He was calling men and women to a new purity and a new fellowship in the married life.  It is impossible to exaggerate the cleansing effect that Christianity had on home life in the ancient world and the benefits it brought to women.

 

 

Commentary

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

 

Here the Holy Spirit uses the husband and the wife to show the spiritual picture of the New Testament church.  He clearly states that wives are to be subject to their own husbands.  They are to submit to their own husbands as unto the Lord.  [Of course, this is in the true spiritual sense.  A born again woman is not to submit to sin in order to please her husband—she is supposed to please the Lord.  It is perfectly legitimate and right for a woman to go as far as she possibly can to please an unsaved husband—but she is not supposed to deny the Lord.]. If the husband is saved, the husband is the head of that wife.  The thought is that the deference given to her husband is a duty which she owes to the Lord.

 

The reason a Christian wife submits to her own husband is because of the God-given role of leadership and authority given to him.  He is head of his wife not because woman was created out of Adam’s rib (source) but because God has constituted the relationship in this way, for His own purposes―“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:3).  It is not a matter of being bigger or stronger but of the divine order and the divine mystery.  Here is the order―God sends his Son Jesus Christ to redeem man; Christ comes and lays down his life for the world; every man who receives Christianity confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father; and every believing woman will acknowledge, according to Genesis 3:16, that God has placed her in a dependence on and subjection to the man.

 

One of the strangest chapters in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 7.  He (Paul) is talking about marriage and about the relationships between men and women.  The blunt truth is that Paul’s teaching is that marriage is permissible merely in order to avoid something worse.  “Because of the temptation to immorality,” he writes, “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2).  He agrees that a widow may marry again but it would be better if she remained single (1 Corinthians 7:39, 40).  He would prefer the unmarried and the widows not to marry.  “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry; for it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:9).

 

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

 

“FOR THE HUSBAND IS THE HEAD OF THE WIFE, EVEN AS CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH”Paul provides this illustration to assist us in understanding his previous statement; “WIVES, SUBMIT YOURSELVES UNTO YOUR OWN HUSBANDS, AS UNTO THE LORD” (5:22).  This is clear and unmistakable.  Christ is the head of the church … not the Apostle Peter or the Pope of Rome.  The Pope of Rome is the head of the Roman Catholic church, to be sure; but Jesus Christ is the head of the church of God.  The Bible clearly and unmistakably states that Christ is the head of the church; therefore, no man or woman is, has ever been, or ever will be, head of the church.  Jesus is the head; he is also the foundation [“FOR OTHER FOUNDATION CAN NO MAN LAY THAN THAT IS LAID, WHICH IS JESUS CHRIST” (1 CORINTHIANS 3:11).].

 

“AND HE IS THE SAVIOUR OF THE BODY”The husband is to protect the wife because she is the weaker vessel.  The woman was made from a rib, removed from beneath Adams arm.  The woman should be under the protection of the husband, who is the stronger and who is the head.  Jesus in like manner is the head of the church, “AND HE IS THE SAVIOR OF THE BODY.”  He protects the body, thank God.  As I have tried to point out, we are not saved and left to fight our battles alone.  We have within us the Holy Spirit . . . a greater power than the spirit of Satan [“YE ARE OF GOD, LITTLE CHILDREN, AND HAVE OVERCOME THEM: BECAUSE GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU, THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD” (1 JOHN 4:4; also see Romans 8:35-39).].  Jesus is not only the head of the church, but He also protects the church; and one day it will be presented to Him by God the Father, without spot or wrinkle . . . there will not be one iota of sin in the church when it is presented to the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

 

“THEREFORE AS THE CHURCH IS SUBJECT UNTO CHRIST”―Paul goes a step further; Jesus is the head of the church, he is the Savior of the church—therefore, the church is subject to Jesus.  No two-legged human being on the face of this earth has any right to change anything in the Word of God pertaining to the church of God.  Jesus said, “NICODEMUS, YOU MUST BE BORN OF THE SPIRIT”—and it is still, “YE MUST BE BORN OF THE SPIRIT.” We must be saved by grace through faith.  The entrance into the church is by salvation [“PRAISING GOD, AND HAVING FAVOUR WITH ALL THE PEOPLE. AND THE LORD ADDED TO THE CHURCH DAILY SUCH AS SHOULD BE SAVED” (ACTS 2:47)] and if you are not saved you are not a member of the New Testament church.  Jesus is the Savior; the church is subject to Him.

 

“SO LET THE WIVES BE TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS IN EVERY THING.” Paul goes a step further in the natural realm, and admonishes wives to be subject to their own husbands IN EVERYTHING.  Paul is thinking in terms of believers—not sinners.  The wife is to be subject to a Godly husband because the husband is head of the wife.  The church is to be subject to Jesus—not to a preacher, a board of deacons or trustees, and not a bishop.  No man has any right to dictate to the Lord’s church, nor make changes in it.  It is finished.  “THY WORD IS FOREVER SETTLED IN HEAVEN.” Not one jot or tittle will ever pass away.  The church is subject to the doctrine of Jesus Christ, not to the dogmas and traditions of men.  Regardless of what changes are made in doctrines and in the rules and regulations of the church, you can mark it well that the rules, regulations, and doctrines of truth having to do with the church, are the same today as they were when Jesus said, “UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH!” The warning is the same: “IF ANY COME TO YOU AND BRING NOT THIS DOCTRINE, DO NOT INVITE HIM INTO YOUR HOUSE AND DO NOT BID HIM GOD SPEED” (II JOHN).

 

Paul says that the wife’s submission is in everything. That is, after all, how all believers are to submit to Christ.  Illustrating the mystery is, therefore, not only a tremendous privilege for husbands and wives; it’s a challenge.  Husbands and wives are sinners.  The submission of a wife to her husband is not struggle-free.

 

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

 

Paul goes further: The husband is the head of the wife—but he is not the boss.  He is to love his wife as Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it.  That throws a little different light on the relationship between a Christian man and Christian woman.  A believing husband is not to dominate the woman and dictate to her.  He is to love that woman, lead and protect her; and if she is the kind of woman she ought to be, she wants to be loved, led and protected by the husband.  A woman who has the right spirit does not desire to boss a man.

 

The measure of Christ’s love is stated in the declaration that He “GAVE HIMSELF FOR” the church.  The husband is to love his wife in the same bountiful fashion, even to the point of sacrificing himself for her well-being.

 

Love:

No word in any language so fully embodies the Gospel of the Grace of God, no word so adamantly represents Christ and what He did to bring about our salvation, as does LOVE.  What a standard God has set up concerning the LOVE between a man and his wife: “AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH!” Certainly the LOVE of Christ for the church is past finding out, it knows no boundaries, and it knows no barriers.  Christ’s LOVE is unspeakable, indescribable, and unknowable in its fullness.  In the eternity behind us He LOVED us; he gave Himself for us, even while we were yet dead in trespasses and sins...while we were yet ungodly.  At this present hour He LOVES us and is sanctifying and cleansing believers (members of the church) with the washing of the water by the Word.  But that is not all: Out yonder in the future, because of His great LOVE wherewith He LOVED us, He will present the church to Himself, “A GLORIOUS CHURCH NOT HAVING SPOT OR WRINKLE OR ANY SUCH THING (V. 27).” What love! 

 

The apostle lists, in this passage, five things about love that a husband must impart to his wife.

  1. It must be a sacrificial love (v. 25). That’s what he’s saying in this verse—he must love her as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for the Church.  It must never be a selfish love.  Christ loved the Church, not so that the Church might do things for Him, but in order that He might do things for the Church.
  2. It must be a purifying love (v. 26). By the washing of baptism and by the confession of faith, Christ sought to make for Himself a Church, cleansed and consecrated, until there was neither soiling spot nor disfiguring wrinkle upon it. 
  • It must be a caring love (v. 28). A man must love his wife as he loves his own body. Real love loves not to extract service, nor to ensure that his physical comfort is attended to; it cherishes the one it loves. 
  1. It is an unbreakable love (v.30). For the sake of this love a man leaves father and mother and cleaves to his wife.  They become one flesh.  He is as united to her as the members of the body are united to each other; and would no more think of separating from her than of tearing his own body apart. 
  2. The whole relationship is in the Lord (v. 32). In the Christian Home Jesus is an ever-remembered, though an unseen, guest.  In Christian marriage there are not two partners, but three—and the third is Christ.

 

26 That he might sanctify* and cleanse* it with the washing of water by the word,

 

Verse 26 is very enlightening: “THAT HE (Jesus) MIGHT SANCTIFY* AND CLEANSE* IT (the church)”… But how?  “By the worship…” What worship?  The baptistery, baptism?  The river Jordan?  The One to whom we are subject gives the answer: “… By THE WASHING OF THE WATER BY THE WORD.” There is not enough water in the river Jordan and in all the baptisteries in all the world to wash away the least sin you have ever committed.  Water baptism has nothing to do with redemption.  Water baptism has nothing to do with salvation.  Water baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament church, which testifies that the person being baptized has died to the world, died to sin, is buried with Christ, and is raised to walk in newness of life.  Water baptism does not wash away sin.  The water referred to in John 3:5 and the water that cleanses the church is the Word of God.  For instance: “NOW YE ARE CLEAN THROUGH THE WORD WHICH I HAVE SPOKEN UNTO YOU” (JOHN 15:3).  The word is the water… Living water; and the Word brings salvation.  The Word cleanses from all sin.  The Word sanctifies: “SANCTIFY* THEM THROUGH THY WORD.  THY WORD IS TRUTH” (JOHN 17:17).  The word cleanses (John 15:3).  The Word is the seed that brings the new birth (1 Peter 1:23).  Baptism is not the water referred to here—nor any other place having to do with cleansing from the filthiness of sin. 

 

The expression “BY THE WORD” has also caused strenuous debate.  Some take it to refer to the word of the gospel as the actual instrument by which the cleansing is accomplished―“YOU ARE ALREADY CLEAN BECAUSE OF THE WORD WHICH I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU.”(SEE JOHN 15:3).  Others interpret it as a spoken word accompanying the washing of water—“either the word which is spoken over the person being baptized… (See Matthew 28:19), or (more probably) the word spoken by him in which he confesses his faith and invokes the Lord” (See Acts 22:16).

 

*“SANCTIFY” means to set apart, to consecrate. “CLEANSE” suggests the removal of sin and its defilement.  The two acts are thought of as simultaneous, the cleansing being the means by which the sanctifying is brought about.

 

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

 

“THAT HE MIGHT PRESENT IT TO HIMSELF A GLORIOUS CHURCH, NOT HAVING SPOT, OR WRINKLE, OR ANY SUCH THING.” In verse 27, the church will be presented to Christ… a glorious church, a spotless church, a holy church, a church without wrinkle or blemish; blazing white holiness, purity, righteousness, and godliness will be on display when the church is presented to Jesus at the marriage supper in the sky.  What a picture!  What a tremendous truth.  What a glorious fact.  I am so glad I am a member of that body!  And dear reader, if you are not a member of that body, you can be right now, this moment, if you will bow your head, close your eyes, and put your trust in Jesus.  He will save you.

 

“BUT THAT IT SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH” This is the goal for the church. This is what the apostles constantly worked at (2 Corinthians 11:2; Colossians 1:28). All instruction is aimed at enabling Christians to be morally pure individuals that glorify God (Ephesians 4:25; 2 Corinthians 7:1). The true church must always be striving to present the moral standard that God endorses (1 Peter 1:14-15; Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 2:15; James 4:7-10). These verses infer that God will not tolerate any defilement in the heavenly kingdom (Revelation 21:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:6). Unrepented sin or false doctrine will defile us (2 John 1:9-11; Galatians 1:6-9). Note what is "glorious" to God; a morally and doctrinally pure church is glorious in the sight of God. “HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH” (EPHESIANS 1:4.) “WHAT BRIDE DOES NOT TAKE THE GREATEST CARE TO AVOID ‘SPOTS AND WRINKLES OR ANY SUCH THING’ UPON HER WEDDING GOWN? SO THE CHRISTIAN IS TO BE EXCITED ABOUT SEEING THE LORD COME. HE IS TO AVOID ALL MORAL OR SPIRITUAL STAIN AND DEFECT” (1 JOHN 3:1-3). So the church is terrified by the idea of appearing before Christ as immoral, indecent, immodest, hypocritical, full of hate or unforgiving”

 

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

 

“SO OUGHT MEN TO LOVE THEIR WIVES AS THEIR OWN BODIES.” In verse 28, Paul goes further with his illustration.  MEN OUGHT TO LOVE THEIR WIVES AS THEIR OWN BODIES.  A man should protect his wife just like he would protect himself.  He should love his wife like he loves himself.  A man and wife are one.  People who are married in the Lord are not two people—they are one flesh.  They love alike, they live alike, they think alike.  They rejoice together, and weep together.  That is the way Christian marriage ought to be—and if God joined more people together the divorce courts would be out of business!  No man hates his own flesh.  We feed our flesh, we cherish our flesh… and we look after ourselves.  We should do the same for our wife.

 

Notice, they are to love them, not as they love their own bodies, but as being their own bodies.  Husband and wife belong together as complementary parts of one personality, so that it can be said that “HE THAT LOVETH HIS WIFE LOVETH HIMSELF.” Verse 29 explains this: “FOR NO MAN EVER YET HATED HIS OWN FLESH; BUT NOURISHETH AND CHERISHETH IT, EVEN AS THE LORD THE CHURCH.” To clench his point Paul quotes genesis 2:24, laying all the stress on the last clause, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE” (5:31).  And this leads him to the theological speculation of verse 32, which has puzzled so many.

 

“HE THAT LOVETH HIS WIFE LOVETH HIMSELF,” for the reason that: 

(1) She is one with him, and their interests are similar.

(2) He really promotes his own welfare, as much as he does when he takes care of his own body. A man‘s kindness to his wife will be more than repaid by the happiness which she imparts; and all the real kindness which he shows to make her happy, will come to more than it costs. If a man wishes to promote his own happiness in the most effective way, he had better begin by showing kindness to his wife.

 

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

 

“FOR NO human being EVER YET HATED HIS OWN FLESH.” FLESH as used here is nearly equivalent to “body,” but was probably chosen by the Apostle, because he already had in mind the quotation (Ephesians 5:31), which refers to the institution of marriage before the fall; this of course excludes any ethical reference.

 

That it is natural to love oneself is evident from the way in which most people care for themselves and especially for their bodies.”  The fact that some people have abused themselves or even have committed suicide, demonstrates how “weird” and pathetic such tendencies really are. To God "suicide" and other forms of self-inflicted pain and abuse to one’s body is to live by a standard that even the unbeliever rejects as "immoral".

 

“BUT NOURISHETH AND CHERISHETH IT, EVEN AS THE LORD THE CHURCH.” The Lord Jesus is looking after His church, praise God!  He looks after His little children.  I am glad the Lord is my Shepherd.  He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness, He prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, He anoints my head with oil, He makes my cup to run over, and He will give me goodness and mercy all the days of my life and then He will give me a place in my Father’s house forever.  Hallelujah!  What a savor!  What a shepherd! 

 

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

 

Why does Jesus do all this for us?  Verse 30 has the answer: We born again children of God are members of His body.  Think of it!  We are united to His body.  In the spiritual aspect we are NOW members of His body.  WE ARE NOW MEMBERS OF HIS FLESH AND OF HIS BONES.  Those of us who are born again believers did not join the New Testament church by filling out a card.  We became part of the body of Christ by faith in His blood.  The Holy Spirit united us, welded us, put us into the body.  No wonder He looks after us!  You, father or mother, look after your little children if you are the kind of mom and dad you ought to be.  Jesus is the kind of Savior He ought to be, and He looks after his own.  Praise his name! 

 

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

 

Verse 31 is a quotation from Genesis 2:24―“FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND HIS MOTHER, AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE; AND THEY SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.”  Paul here refers to the relationship that existed in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve.  That first couple is a figure of the future union of Christ and the church as Bridegroom and brides.  Eve was created to be a helpmeet for Adam.  She was taken from his side, not molded from the ground as were the animals.  Adam was incomplete until they were together.  God fashioned her, and I think she was the loveliest thing in creation when God brought her to Adam.  One wag has said that she had to be better looking than man because God had practiced on man but He had experience when He made woman.  She was a helpmeet for Adam.  She compensated for what he lacked.  She was made for him and they became one.  In the Hebrew the word for “man” is ish and for “woman” it is isha.  The word is almost the same—she was taken out of man.

 

Paul refers its Paul referred to the creation of Eve and the forming of the first home (Genesis 2:18-24).  Adam had to give part of himself in order to get a bride, but Christ gave all of Himself to purchase His bride at the cross.  God opened Adams side, but sinful man pierced Christ’s side.  So united are a husband and wife that they are “ONE FLESH.” Their union is even closer than that of parents and children.  The believers union with Christ is even closer and, unlike human marriage, will last for all eternity.  Paul closes with a final admonition that the husband love his wife and that the wife reverence (respect) her husband, all of which require the power of the Holy Spirit

 

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

 

“THIS IS A GREAT MYSTERY”―New Testament marriage is an intimate unbreakable union.  When a man and woman are joined together in marriage by the Lord, they become one flesh… they are no longer two.  “THEREFORE SHALL A MAN LEAVE HIS FATHER AND HIS MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE UNTO HIS WIFE” (GENESIS 2:24).  In the same way, the Son of God has a Bride.  He left the Father’s house, came into the world, died on the cross, and his side was opened—and through His shed blood we who believe become members of His body, His Bride, and one day we will be presented to Him without spot or wrinkle.  “THIS IS A GREAT MYSTERY: BUT I SPEAK CONCERNING CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.” The word “MYSTERY,” as elsewhere in the Ephesians letter, denotes a truth once hidden but now revealed.  The mystery is “great” because it is both profoundly important and exceedingly wonderful. 

 

But I speak concerning Christ and the churchVerse 32 may be translated: “I for my part [the pronoun is emphatic to distinguish Paul from the writer of Genesis 2:24] am speaking with reference to Christ and with reference to the church.” Thus, it is not marriage but the union between Christ and His church that Paul calls a mystery.  It is the likeness of the marital union to this higher spiritual relationship that gives to marriage its deepest significance.

 

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

 

Only somebody with an exaggerated view of the equality of the sexes could take exception to this!

 

Chapter five closes with the clear, understandable statement, “NEVERTHELESS LET EVERY ONE OF YOU IN PARTICULAR SO LOVE HIS WIFE EVEN AS HIMSELF; AND THE WIFE SEE THAT SHE REVERENCE HER HUSBAND.” Certainly when the husband loves the wife as he loves himself, and when the wife has reverence for such a loving husband, all hell could not separate them nor tear them apart.  That is exactly as the Lord Jesus would have it.

 

Behind Paul’s teaching here lies an important strand of biblical teaching that runs from creation through the fall into salvation:

  1. Man was created first, and then woman.  Man was created as an image and glory of God; woman as the glory of man (1 Corinthians 11:7-9), yet made to be one flesh with him (Genesis 2:23; Ephesians 5:29).  There is equality of being, even a union between two people.  But this is set within two different roles.
  2. In the original creation it would have been ‘natural’ for Eve to fulfill her unique role as helper to Adam.  It was this that the serpent overturned.  He tried to confuse her about what God had actually said (Genesis 3:1).  That was tantamount to denying what Adam her husband had told her.  Eve listened to the voice of the serpent rather than the voice of her husband (and thus rather than to the voice of God).  Adam appears to have been present but remained silent.  He listened to the voice of his wife (Genesis 3:17) and thus also sinned by not listening to the voice of God.
  • In Christ the fall is reversed.  He obeyed where Adam failed; he took the divine judgment Adam deserved to remake what was fractured and twisted at the fall.  This is what is being worked out and exhibited in the relationship of a wife to her husband. 

 

It is marvelous that the Lord has so constituted marriage that a Christian wife can illustrate the life of faith by her response to her husband.  Such a wife expresses the evangelistic power of married love.

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